Didn't I grow up in a quiet stretch of country? Every passing year, I hear the name of my small sun-soaked valley on the tongues of people further and further abroad. There are some things they can't know. No one but me saw my grandfather sketch and paint a sign whose grape clusters parted to read “Welcome to Alexander Valley.” No one saw when the Healdsburg politician, slick with snake oil, asked him to take it down saying our northern stretch might devalue their souther spoils. The old man smiled - his eyes gleaming with bacchic zeal as he shut the door politely, but firmly, in the man's face. Then the people found my valley and came pouring in with pop up maps highlighting the mega wineries and the celebrity vintages toted by hollywood stars.
Still, I remain content in knowing that there is a strong undercurrent of art and passion ringing in the hills. There are women and men hidden there who define themselves not in the number of people served but in the creation of evolving flavor. I know their value cannot stay concealed. Discovery will come to their wares and they will be dragged out of their single-room chambers of alchemy. But for now there they stay, their praxis to ferment the honest pursuit of an artistic passion, eyes glowing like that of Dostoevsky at the firing squad, the madness which believes individuality lives on. The things they preach to the vines are a secret only us locals know.
by Sam Styles